Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Immunology
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Intestinal Mucus has Anti-Inflammatory Functions

Published: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Bookmark and Share
This discovery could open the door to the development of new treatments for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Researchers at Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM) in Barcelona, in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and other U.S. Institutions, have found that intestinal mucus not only acts as a physical barrier against commensal bacteria and dietary antigens, but also prevents the onset of inflammatory reactions against these agents. This fundamental property of mucus was unknown until now and its discovery could potentially improve the life of people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

Mucus is a colloidal gel produced by glands present in our mucosal surfaces, including the intestine. "Our body produces on average a liter of mucus every day. Despite its abundance, mucus has been poorly studied and thus very little is known about its composition, synthesis and functional properties. Part of the problem may be that mucus is traditionally viewed as a symbol of disease and thus represents an antivalue" explains Dr. Andrea Cerutti, ICREA Research Professor, coordinator of the research group in B Cell Biology at IMIM, Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai and responsible for the study. "In addition, mucus is fundamentally ambiguous. Its fluidity exists in slow motion and there is sticky thickness in its liquidity. This ambiguity may have conditioned a depreciatory estimate of the value of mucus by physicians, who have often put forth every effort to brush, wash or dissolve away mucus as if it were an evil thing" adds Dr. Meimei Shan, the first author of the study and a collaborator of Dr. Cerutti at Mount Sinai in New York.

"Immunologists have always been interested in finding out why we do not develop an inflammatory reaction to the trillions of bacteria and large amounts of food antigens that come in contact with our intestinal mucosa. Yet, these same agents cause dangerous inflammatory reactions and even death when other parts of our body are exposed to them. The discovery published in this study helps to explain this long-standing question." explains Maurizio Gentile, a PhD student in Dr. Cerutti's lab and major contributor of this work.

The building block of gut mucus is the mucin MUC2. This molecule not only acts as a physical barrier, but also provides anti-inflammatory signals to dendritic cells, which is an immune cell type that regulates the health of our intestine and helps us to fight against bacteria and food antigens. Dr. Cerutti's team used complex techniques involving cellular immunology and molecular biology to describe this process. "By showing the beneficial anti-inflammatory activity of mucus, our work opens up a broad field of research. The natural pharmacological properties of mucus might provide a promising complementary way to treat inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease" comments Dr. Linda Cassis, another member of the team involved in this research. A collaborator of Dr. Cerutti at IMIM, Dr. Anna Bigas, was instrumental to define a transcription factor of the anti-inflammatory signaling pathway activated by MUC2 in dendritic cells.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have an incidence in Spain of 125 cases out of 100,000 and more than 200 out of 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. Both are chronic pathologies that often affect young people whose quality of life is negatively impacted by major physical problems. Drugs for inflammatory bowel disease do exist, but are complicated by numerous collateral effects. Natural or synthetic mucus might offer a valuable adjuvant therapy that could permit to reduce the dose of currently available drugs, thus attenuating their side effects. However, further experimentation is needed to ascertain the therapeutic value of mucus. Laura Comerma, a physician in the Department of Pathology of Hospital del Mar and another member of the Cerutti lab, adds that "our discovery could also help people affected with food allergies, who indeed can develop gut inflammation besides asthma and dermatitis".

In the future, efforts should concentrate on further exploring the mechanisms underlying the immunological function of mucus. Dr. Cerutti and his collaborator Dr. Montserrat Cols at Mount Sinai explain that “mucus is altered in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and thus attempts should also be made to artificially synthesize MUC2-derived compounds for oral administration that might be capable to mitigate the symptoms of these diseases”. Last but not least, the findings of this study may have ramifications in cancer. Indeed, some colon, ovarian and breast cancers produce mucus. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, mucus produced by malignant cells may impair protective immune responses against the cancerous cells. Thus, a better understanding of the tolerogenic properties of mucus could also have a positive impact in the therapy of these tumors.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Can We Break the Link Between Obesity and Diabetes?
Columbia University researchers identify a key molecule involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Alzheimer’s Protein Serves as Natural Antibiotic
Alzheimer's-associated amyloid plaques may be part of natural process to trap microbes, findings suggest new therapeutic strategies.
Slime Mold Reveals Clues to Immune Cells’ Directional Abilities
Study from UC San Diego identifies a protein involved in the directional ability of a slime mold.
Supressing Intenstinal Analphylaxis in Peanut Allergy
Study from National Jewish Health shows that blockade of histamine receptors suppresses intestinal anaphylaxis in peanut allergy.
Getting a Better Look at How HIV Infects and Takes Over its Host Cells
A new approach, developed by a team of researchers led by The Rockefeller University and The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC), offers an unprecedented view of how a virus infects and appropriates a host cell, step by step.
Untangling Disease-Related Protein Misfolding
Work advances understanding of genetic forms of thrombosis, emphysema, cirrhosis of the liver, neurodegenerative diseases and inflammation, among others.
Developing a More Precise Seasonal Flu Vaccine
During the 2014-15 flu season, the poor match between the virus used to make the world’s vaccine stocks and the circulating seasonal virus yielded a vaccine that was less than 20 percent effective.
Fighting Cancer with Borrowed Immunity
A new step in cancer immunotherapy: researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and University of Oslo/Oslo University Hospital show that even if one's own immune cells cannot recognize and fight their tumors, someone else's immune cells might.
Loss Of Y Chromosome Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Men with blood cells that do not carry the Y chromosome are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is in addition to an increased risk of death from other causes, including many cancers. These new findings by researchers at Uppsala University could lead to a simple test to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Immune Cells Remember Their First Meal
Scientists at the University of Bristol have identified the trigger for immune cells' inflammatory response – a discovery that may pave the way for new treatments for many human diseases.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!